The Great Seal
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA.
SEAL AND ARMS
By JAMKS KVELYN PILCHER, L.H.D.
THK STATK OV I'KNNSVr.V A N I A.
W.I. STANLEY RAY, STATE PRINTER.
MEW YORK \\
Aster, Lr'.rox ard
THK SEAL AND COAT OF ARMS OF THE COM-
MONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA.
IX connectiou with tlie preiJiii-ation of the fouilh scrii's of the Penn-
sylvauia Aitliives, it became ueeessaiy to examine many doeu-
meuts upon which the various forms of the seals and coat of
anus of the Commonwealth appeared — allording' jjrohably a better
opjiortunity for a study of these emblems than has hitherto occurred.
I'areful advantage wan taken of tlliese opportunities and the follow-
ing study of the subject has been founded ujjon them.
\Vhen the son of Admiral Sir William Tenn became proprietor of
a vast estate in North America, in reward for his father's services to
the crown, the Penn arms became the arms of the Province and the
J'enn seal became the seal of the Colony.
It should be obiserved that the seal is the impression made upon
a plastic material by compression between tllie plates of a seal-press.
The error of referring to the seal-press as a seal, is not uncommon,
and has crept into t«;onie of the dictionaries, but strict accuracy dic-
tates the rejection of it» employment in that sense. A seal, then, is
an impressed device attached to a })aj»er for purposes of authentica-
tion, and the instrument, by which it is made, is a seal-press or
There were three kinds of provincial seals:
1. The (Ireat Seal of the Province.
2. The Lesser Seal of the Piovince.
3. The Seal at Arn)s.
They were used upon (lomiiiciiis of varying inij)ortance:
The Great Seal appeared uj)on treaties, proclamations, important
instruments, and the like, and had also a counter seal or posterior
The Les&er Seal is found upon the laws, decisions of the Supreme
Court, and less important executive and judicial papers, and ha« no
The Seal at Arms may be seen upon summons to the Assembly, and
orders addressed to provincial officials, and also has no counterseal.
In describing the seal® and later, in considering the coat of arms,
!he numerous technicalities, obsolete expressions and mediaeval ap-
pellations with which heraldic description abounds are avoided,
since tlhis description is designed for the general public and not for
professional genealogists. Where heraldic terms are used at all,
great pains has been taken in each case to define them.
We have two forms of the Great Seal of the province, under Wil-
liam Penn: one — the earlier — an enormous disc three eighths of an
inch thick and three inches or more in diameter, — impressed in red
wax not directly upon the instrument authenticated by it, but upon
ribbons, passed first througih the documents to which it wa® attached,
and protected by a tin box, — similar to those in which paste shoe-
THE GREAT SEAL OF WILLIAM PENN.
(Obverse and Reverse.)
blacking is sold — with openings upon the opposite sides of the box
for the passage of the ribbons.
The later form of the Great Seal of William Penn is two inches in
diameter, impressed in wax upon ribbons b}' which it was suspended
from its document, and covered' above and below by paper, so as to
form a white paper covered disc. There are a number of these seals
upon documents still in the possession of the Commonwealth.
This Great Seal of early provincial days, consists of the arms of
the Penn family (a shield, crossed horizontally by a fess or band,
bearing three torteux or biscuit, and the motto, "Mercy, Justice") —
the shield and motto surrounded by a circumferential band, bearing
the words: William Penn, Proprietor and Governour of Pensil-
. -,73^../.*/v.^ . ^ , ...
^M /«/v»/j>«i«/:V '.
f.'r.ri«',v •, -^ ./ica'^ ^
SEAL OF THOMAS AND RIC
know \^< V...
iD PEXN. Reduced P'ac Simile,
r OF ITf.'i.
The couuterseal or pocj^terior face presents iliiei' ladiaiiiig ears of
Indian corn within a lircnniferential band bearing' lilie words:
"Truth, I'eace. Love and Plenty," surrounded ciriunifercnlially a
second time by an olive branch.
The Lesser Seal of William Petin's govern-
ment was the same as the great seal, except
that it was smaller, and had no connti*rseal.
W'lu'n William IV'iin died, and his sous suc-
ceeded to the proprietorship of the Province,
the seal was changed, but only in the outer
band, in which were substituted the words:
"John, Thomas amd Kichard Penn, Proprie-
tors and (Jovi'rns. Pensilvania." Such modi-
lications co^itinued to be made upon the occur-
rence of each change in the proprietorship.
When John Pcnu died, the inscriptiiwi was
changed to "Thomas and Kichard Penn, Pro-
jirietors and Governors," and when Richard
Penn passed into that bourne whence no
traveller returns, to be succeeded by his so!i
John, the inscription was again modified to
read, "Thomas and John Petin, I'roprietors
Of the Seal at Arms but little is ke.own.
I have yet to see any description of it, al-
though certain printed papers, handed down to us from revolu-
iiouary times, contain rc^ferences to it. It appears to have never
liitherto been described nor illustrated.
The Seal at Arms, like other provincial seals, variedi from time to
time, not iliowever according to the proprietors for the time being,
but according to the wish of the va
rious governors. The seal at arms
of the administration of (Jovcrnoi-
(Icorge Tiutmas in 1740, consists oi
a shield bearing llirec lions iainpa^)i
— stainling on thcii* hind legs and
pawing the air — with a fourth and
larger lion, also lampant. as a crest.
This seal is an inch in diameter.
The seal ai arms of (lovernor
Hamilton, in 17(>2, consists of a
shield l)earing three (piatrefoils oi-
four-leaved flowers, while that of
Governor John Penn, in 1774, con
sists of a shield crossed by the tradi
The Great Seal of WiUi.-im
Peon.— (Later Furiii.)
HoDal fess or baud of the Penn family with its three torteux or bis-
cuit, and a tiger rampant as a crest.
The seal at arms of Governor Kobert Hunter Morris, who presided
over Peunsvlvauia duri«g the troublous times of Braddock's cam-
paign against the French and Indians at Fort Du Quesne, was a
shield bearing the three torteux of Penn quartered with the lions
rampant of Thomas,
Lesser Seal of John, Thomas
and Kichard Penn.
Lesser Seal of Thomas and
Richard Penn. On this seal the
name oi John Penn has merely
been rudelj- chiseled out.
The Revolution put an end to all this; instability of seals. The seal
at arms was entirely abandoned. The lesser seal became merely a
reduced copy of the great seal. And the great seal passed on from
administration to administration without change.
The transition from the provincial to the state seal dates from 1776,
when the Constitutional Convention of that year provided that "all
Seal at Arms (leo. Thomas
Seal at Arms James Haniiltt)n.
J-eal at Arms R. H. Morris
commissions shall be ■■ * "■ sealed with the v^iate sial." and on the
28th of September, appointed Messrs. Kitienhouse, Jacobs and Cly-
mer "a committee to prepare the seals for future legislature and exe-
cutive council of the State." Just here a link is defective, for we
have no record of the work of this coniiuitlee. nor any report from
it, bill the iia]iers of (Jeorge l>ryan, acting president of the Supreme
'I'lic < lic.il Sciil (»f TlioiiKis ;iiiil IJiclund I'ciin.
<?1C - 1 ,, 5 4^: ixi ~, i
r'oumil. iiboiit :i year and a luilf later, are found to bear a j^a-eat seal
of the form, size and pattern wliieli remained in use for the ensuing
ihirty-two years, and other evidenee, to be eonsid^^red in connection
V. itli the eoat of arms, brings the design down to the time of this com-
Seal at Arms R. H. Morris.
The Lesser Seal of 1776.
The design has ii,.-orrertly been said to be a combination of the
creets shown on the seals of the three original counties of Pennsyl
vania.-and consisted of a circle having a baud across the center
bearing a plough, with a ship under full sail in the upper seoment
Mud three sheaves of wheat in the lower, the whole surrounded^bv the
niscnptioii, "S'eal of the State of Pennsylvania."
The Seals of tJie early Pennsylvania counties were formed by
mounting a distinguishing crest upon the shield of the Penn coat o'f
arnK>». The civst on the Chester county seal was a plough, that on the
PJ:iladelj.liia county seal was a ship under full sail, and it has been
ni.-.u-rectly stipposed that the crest on the Bucks c(.untv seal was n
sheaf of wJieat; as a matter of fact the crest of the seal of Bucks
county was a fig tree. (Archives. .?d Series, Vol. XTIT.)
Seal ..f Pliilri<l.-li.lii,i Countv.
Se.-il of Chester Countv.
The sheaves of wheat may. however, have been derived from the
seal of Sussex, one of the original counties of Delaware, which
formed a part of Pennsylvania when a province. The sheaf fif wheal
was also quartered upon the st-al of the city of Philadelphia, fro'u
Which its use in the State seal may have been derived.
And thus came into being that combination of symbols, which
for a century and a quarter has stood' for the power and sovereignly
of the greatest Commonwealth in that arch of t^tates — the American
Union, and which, by the might of its intiuence, the splendor of its
example, and the for^-e of its arms, has contributed more than any
otiier of the factors combined into our >y'ation, to hold its parts to-
gether and to sustain its proud claim to be the keystone, which not
only supports and consolidates all the other elements of the edifice,
but itself is the capstone and crowning glory of the proud nation
whose birth occurred Avithin its borders.
Seal of Sussex Count.v.
Seal of the City of Philadelphia.
The couuterseal still more eloquently symbolizes the pre-eminence
of Pennsylvania in the cause of freedom and independence. For it
represents Liberty as a majestic woman bearing in her left hand a
wand, surmounted by a liberty cap, and iu her right a drawn sword, —
trampling upon Tyranny personified by a lion wliich lies crushed
under her feet, the whole surrounded by the in.scription, "Both can't
sui-vive" — and nobly has the Commonwealth demonstrated that ty-
ranny can not live among her liberty-loving citizens.
It was evidently a re-engraving of the matrix of this seal to which
Monsieur Tenet referred in his letter from Nantes to the Supreme
Executive Council of May 20, 1780, in which he remarks: "Captain
Samuel Smitili, who has been readiy to sail for some time, will deliver
to you as soon as he arrives in Philadelphia, the seals representing
the Arms of your State. As you desired, the}' were engraved in
Paris." Tills re-engraved matrix came over very soon after Monsieur
Pt'uet's letter, as is evident from an examination of thc^ otticial papers
(if ITSO, — the seals of tlje latter portion of the year being much more
clearly defined than those of the eai'lier portion. T em]thasize the
fact that ihii.^ was a simple re-engraving of a design wiliich had been
in use for years before, to correct an erroneous impression that it
originated at this time.
The Seal of 17Tli.
It was not until tiftecu vears after its first oniploAinent that this
seal rec-t'ivt'd h'.ual rinojinition, the (UMU'ial Assembly, in 17!»1, confor-
liiig a legal status ujiou the seals theretofore uc<eil. ■
And s!io this design conliiiued cm for (liicc du'cades lo altest the
iioeuint'iits of ihe ConnnouNveall li. aullieHtitat in^ the jjajiers of
Thomas .M'Kcan. Thomas Mil'ilin. .hihii Dickinson. Uenjamin Frank-
lin, and oliher chief magistrates ol lanic and cniiiicnco.
Hut in ISO!), the matrix of the gn-at seal having again heconu' so
A\oru as no longer to produce a diistincl impression, h'gisl;ition was
f-uaeted.f inoviding for a new die; and advantage was taken of Ihe
(jpportunity. to (dahorate the previous design by the introduction of
a shield with an eagle cre>t. upon which the ship. j»hiugh and wheat
sheaves were emblazoned, but facing from left to right instead of
from right to left, as had been the case witih the pnnious design. On
the left of the sliicdd was jdaced a stalk of Indian corn, while an
olive branch was laid upon the right. Festooiu'd above, between the
blield and the crest and falling down u]ion either side, was a llower-
i]ig spray. About tlie margin was continued the inscription, "Seal
of Hie State of Pennsylvania. '" bui instead' (d' reading from left to
right, English fai^lliion. ii was made to read from right to left.
The seal of lsii!» persisted for forty years, finding its place not only
r.pon ordinary <d1icial documents of iniporlaiicc. Iml also upon the
commissioiir^ of the I'eniisylvania officeis in the \\ ai- of isji' .md die
Campaigns in Mexico.
•The rnns<t!tuOon of ]-.«!»-90 madp no provision for a State Seal. aUhough article 6 section 4
ncnuniz*.! Its eylKt*-nfe. but the flr.»t law that passed under that instrument. .January 8 179l'
declared and estal.lii-hpd the s-eals <if the Comnionwealth. as fnllows:
••Wlereas. The late convention nf this Cnnimcmwealih did, on the second day of Septem-
h^r la.ot. estallish a new foim of government for eenns-ylvanla. and no provision Is therein
made for public seals:
••Be it enacted th"refr.re. hy the Senate and House of Representatives of the (^mmion-
weulth of I'enfsylvania. In ficneral .\s>eml>ly met. and it is hereby enact«>d by the authority
of the same, that from and after tht passing of this Act, the seal, heretofore known by the
name of the •Great Seal.' latf-lv in the custoily of the Supr<-me Kxeculive Council Is hereby
rrnstltuted the Plate seal, and shnll be alllxeil to all patents, proclamations and other public
rollf. con mis.«lons an>l papers of State, which reipiirc the Great Seal of the Commonwealth.
and to which the same has heretofore bet'U usually applied.
••Anc be It further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the seal latch in the custody
of the Suprime Kxe.utiv.- Council, called the Lessr-r Seal.' shall be hi-nc.-forlh dnemed and
taken and shall be applied as the Less S.al of this ComnMnwealth, and, as such, set to land
"fflc- warrants, marrlaite licenses, llcinscs to keep public h.iuses. and such other documents,
as have hereti lore !•< • n l.-'sued un<ler the f.esser Seal.
••And be it firrther cnacit-.l by the authority afores.tid. that the said seals, respectively, shall
be, am! the same are hereby declared to be the Great and I.ess Seals of this <'ommon\vcalth,
and shall be aflixed accordlPKly. under the direction of the Governor."
fWhercas. The Great S"al nf this Commonwelth Is so nearly worn out. that It is necessary
to renew thp same. ,inrl whereas. It appears that there is no description thereof on record and
It IxInK pnprr that the said seal shi uld be iiartlcularly described and established, .so' that
the same may hereafter be more fully known and recrinnlzeil : therefore,
"Ite It enacted liy t!)" ,s..nnte and House of Representatives of the Commi>nwealth of
Pennsylvania In General Assembly met. and It Is hereby enacted liy the aulhorllv of the
same, th.it the ."errelary of the C. n m. nwealth be, and' he Is authnrlzed and directed to pro-
cure the reicwal of the Great Seal of this Commonwealth, and recor>l and deposit a de-
scrii.tiop thereof In wrltln,- In his oflW •• that th" same may be made r>erpetual.'^
I'nder the foreKolnij .\ct a reeord was made of the Great Seal, which we llnd In the Rxecu-
live Minutfv under date of Saturday, ,Iuly 1, isnn, as follows:
•'In obedience to tie dirertlons of an Act of General Assembly, i.assed the second ilav of
Mareh, one tbrusand eUht hundred and r.lne, the followlnif description of the Great Seal Is
recorded, that Is to say:
•The shield sj.all be parted Per Feps, Or, charKcd with a plough. Proper, in chief, on a
sea wavy: Proper, a ship under full sail, surmounted with a sky, Azure: and In Rase, on a
field Vert, three Gf.ibs. Or. On the sinister a stoek of maize, and Oexter an olive branch.
And on the wreath nf Its colours a bald cattle. Projier. (.erched. wln^s extended, for the
Crest. Motif :- 'Virtue, I>tberty, and Tnderiendence.' Round the marKin of the seal. Com-
monwealth of Penn.xylvania. The rexerre. TJbrrty, trampIInK on a I..yon. Gules, the emblem
of Tyranny, Motto:— 'Both can't survive,' "
Seal of 1S5S.
During the administration of Governor Bigler in 1854, a modifica-
tictn of this seal was used, similar in design but with a broader shield.
lo 1858 the inscriptiou was
corrected to read from left to
right and in this shape the
seal continued to perform its
functions for thirty years.
On (me occasion, in a pub-
lished Thanksgiving procla-
mation of Governor Curtin in
18G5 and possibly in printed
versions of some other public
documents, a substitute for a
seal was employed, which
consisted simply of the coat
of arms of that date, — sup
porters, crest, and all — in
eluded within a circle. This
was not a seal, although incorrectly so used, and it is astonishing that
the use of this unjustifiable substitute is very prevalent in unofficial
publications. The largest manufacturers of priuters supplies in the
country offer it to their customers as the correct design, and many
persons are thus un^^ ittingly led into the error of its use. It is not,
never has been, and I am safe in saying, never will be the seal of
the State of Pennsylvania.
In 18G8, however, the seal was again modified by the introduction
of the scroll-work design in the lower segment of the circumferential
In 1893, although the previous design continued occasionally to be
used during that and the following year, — the seal now in use and
Bli<)wn in the frontispiece was adopted, ddffering from the immedi-
atel}' preceding form in the omission of the wreath or festoon about
th<- upper part of the shield and, as in the seal of 1876, facing the
plough and ship from right to left. This is the seal of to-day, and
it will probably go forward unchanged as long as Pennsylvania re-
mains a State and the hearth stones of her homes continue their
The heraldic tinctures properly appear in the seal,
as well as in the coat of arms, but, as they can nevei'
be brought out in an impressed seal by hand color-
ing when the seal is complete, they are ordinarily
represented by certain conventional signs. A back-
ground of transverse lines, for instance, indicates
blue, one of dots or points marks gold, and one of incorrect substitute
oblique lines represents green. The heraldic colors, iSbV*^ ^^^^ "*^^ "*
KSeal of 1809.
Seal of ]s.-,4.
— familiar fiom tlio voiy exci'lUiit rcprost'utation in Suiuirs Hand
book. — are accorilinjilv conviMiiioually so indiralcd in iclicr in tlie
In addition lo tlie heraldic tinclui(-s coin imiI ioujilly iiKlicalcd', the
seals of INMinsyhania have fioni linu' to time \aiied in actual color.
The iuti\ ^n-eai seal of William I'enn was tllie color of (he red wax of
whiih it was coniiiosed. The remaining:: Penn seaKs were of the shade
of the white jiaper with which they were covered. The use of white
]ni\H'V i»ersis}ed until LSoi', when othci- lints were introduced, the
counterseal, however, remaininji in white down to iilic itrcsi-nl day.
<;overnor Hij^ler used a yellow seal and sonn-limes a }.^reen one. (iov-
ernor Curtin's seals were red or blue inlerchanf^^eably, and with Cov
ornor deary be«i;aD the use of (he }rilt .seal which has been cniploycd
by iii« successors down to the present day.
'J'he jjractice of impressing the seal ni)on riblions ((Mitinucd at in
tervals until 1780. In many instances ])rior to that date, and willi
out exception since that period it has been impressed din-ctly ujion
the docunn-nt. Wax was u.«>ed to give body to the seal and |.crniii (»r
a double impression — obverse and reverse — until i-cccnily, wiIumi h
wafer of rice flour was substituted. This wafci' is a sixJei-nth of an
inch thick and of the same diameter as the matrix of the seal. It is
utilized by slightly moistening and applying it to the back of the gill
j.aper cover; both are then affixed to the document to be authenti-
cated and placed in the press, where they are duly fitami»ed into the
i^emblance of the Great Seal of the Commonwealth.
Wliilc the seals cut a very pioiiiiiient figure during the provincial
])erio(l, (he Coat of Arms, except as it pai-tially entered into the seal,
was kept so much in the back ground Hiat it may be said to have
hardly a])jK'ared in colonial documents*.
The Pent! Coat of Arms.
Soon after the declaration of independence, however, a State coat
of arips appeared upon the State paper money, which was issued
early in 1777. Examiuadon shows that this design is ihardly more
than the first State seal, without the encircling inscription.
Emphasis is laid upon this point because, prior to the present re-
searches, the existence of the first State seal was not traced farther
back than 1780. Eeference has already been made to the discovery
of seals of this design upon the papers of Acting President Bryan,
1 v.o years earlier, and now tlhis evidence is submitted, bringing the
design down to 177G, and covering the gap of four years between the
])rovincial and State seals, which previous investigators were unable
to account for. It may be suggevsted that the seal might have been
coi)ied from the coat of arms, but that is disproved by the fact that,
had the coat of arms been the original design, it would have been sup-
I'licd with the crest, supporters and motto naturally belonging
t h( reto.
In tihe following year, indeed, these were sup])lied in the coat of
i'.inis engraved Ity Caleb Lownes. of IMiiladelphia. Here were pro-
vided: lirst, a shield, upon which (he shi}), plough and sheaves of
wheal were emblazoned; isecond, a crest, consit>ling of an eagle with
outstretched vtiugs; third, supporters, consisting of two black horses
harnessed for drawing a vehicle, one upon each side of the shield,
and beihindi each of them a stalk of corn; fourth, a cornstalk and olive
branch crossed below the shield; and fifth, the motto: ''Virtue,
Liberty and Independence," upon a streamer extending across the
ciitire width of the arms, below the other elements.
<r 27/7/10/1 2/// 7////'/
'/ J' ■ .*/' -V^
/»y,/i'/ ^-^ a,y <^^.4r y'-^/^-^^2%,; //^y^,c/y y^
Proclamation of Governor Snyder, the first to l)e authen-
ticated by the Seal of 180'».
Astor, Lenox and Tiiden/
lu ITlMt. this (-out of arms apjK-iUcil with (lie shield ehanj,^ed to (he
^hai»e now in voy:ne. but wi(h inatdcallv no other dnnmes.
First EiiBTavod Arms.— 1777.
Fi-oiii this iioint sci.s out the long pfocession of representations
aM<l niisieiuesentatione of our armorial bearings, which have adorn-
< «i or disfigured the official documents of the last century.
In IX).-) a in. .elided fomi ajijuaicd in which the (•oi!)s(aiUs were
(•Miitxd iiiini ciilier side an<. liic liorscs were deprived of their trap-
pings and ihencefoi waid, llie Indian corn svas per nianeni ly omi((ed,
while the harness did not reappear until seventy years later, in 1875.'
In 1809, one of the horses became white, and in 1820, both of them
lost their color. Jn 1823, under Governor Shulze, the coat of arms
was for the first time emblazoned upon the proclamations, — m the
form of an exceedingly primitive wood cut with the two black
chai'gers recumbent, while in 1829, one of the horses had arisen,
although the other still reclined. In 1832, both animals had become
white and were moving both in the same direction, to the right.
The Arms of 1790.
In 1870, the coursers remained o?^ th(' same sides, while the rising
sun of prosperity, hidden behind the shield, sent up over the horizon
numerous streaming rays of light, and a horn of plenty cast forth
its contents in front.
The Arms of 1805.
In 1873, our rampant steeds had again changed sides, while the
rising sun, ascending still nearer the horizon, irradiated its mighty
pencils of light still more brilliantly upon the irridescent canvas of
And in IS?."). tli(' wliitc liorse was pronounood an intoiiopcr and
l>aui.slu-d in disj^naccN while the dusky cliarger, whom he had sup
phinted. was biou<rht foiili from his imprisonment of seventy years
ancl a-aiu i.aiivd with his brother in hhick, to sui)port the arms
The Arms of 1809.
of the Commonwealth so long as the earth shall endure and the
lieavens look down upon the raee of man. P:a(h of them was also
litted with a harness by m.-ans of which they are ever prepared
in draw the sj.iendid <-ar of state out of all uinicultics on to tii.' solid
loek of ceaseless prosperity and perpetual alHuence.
The AriiiH of IH*).
The Arms of ls23.
Ilith.-rto, whih- in -.•m-iai iis.- ;ui(l of a fairly invariable .Jmr
acter. the coat of arms had nfver received the sanction of law. In
1874, attention having been called to this anomalous condition, the
General Assembly appoiuted a comiiilssioii* to correct tlie arms and
purge them of all the errors wbicli bad arisen in connection with
-^-.^ff /i>^k- ^'^t^-
The Arms of 182''.
them; and in 1875 this commission reported to the Legislature a
coat of arms, practically that of ITDd, Avhicb is stated to have been
engraved by Lownes, and which may be described technically as
*The preamble of the joint resolution, approved the 3(th day of April, 17S4, directs the ap-
pointn.ent of a cnmmiEsion, "to correct the Coat or Anns of the Commonwealth," and "to
have the same recorded in the State Archives," set forth that,
"Whereas, There is no record of the Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth, to be found
in any Department of the Goveriiiient, and whereas, such armorial ensigns are frequently
used, attached to or copied upon public documents of various kinds, as also upon banners
upon State occusions, such as are very likely to arise during the approaching centennial cele
braticn. ami in other ways displayed or issued from the seat of government, wherein correct-
ness arid regularity are desirable: and whereas. The Arms now in use, from their style and
from their aii roach to uniformity, are evidently founded ui on and derived from the devices
composing the Great Seal of the Slate, now of correct record in the State Department, thus
conferring what would .^epm to be sufficient authority upon the said armorial bearings by
common consent and custom, though more specific authority be not known to exist, or having
existed, has been lost."
This con nrssion was authorized "to have the present Arms of the State, as far as as-
certained, th> same l>eing derived from the Great Seal, corrected of such errors or anomalies
as ma> be t! crein dis-covered by careful comparison with and consultation of the science of
the rulet oi heraldry, and as soon as may be practicable, to have a coi:y (f said .-\rms. so
corrected, c.irefuUy emblazoned and described so a^t i • be of record in the State Department
for future reference; the description to be in manner similar to the description of the Great
Seal now of record in said Archi\et."
Dr. Egle rcn arks that, "the commissioners at first delegated their authority to two gentle-
men well versed in heraldry, to report any suggestions or recommendations. Unfortunately
these gentlerren transcended their authority and report at first a Coat of Arms with the fol-
lowing heraldii- devices:
"Escutcheon.— Party, per fess, azure, and Vcrt; on field azure, a ship sailing proper with
canlon Arms of Penn, argent, fess sable with three plates; on the fess, or, a plow; on fiel-i
vert, three garbs, or.
"Crest.— On an escroU sustained by a keystone, an eagle, rousant, proper.
"Sutporteis— Two horse.^, sable, rearing, respecting, caparisoned for draught.
"Motto.— 'V.rlue, Liberty, and Ii dependence.' "
Another modification of the escutcheon was suggested, as follows:
"Party per fess, or, azure and vert; on field azure, a ship sailing, proper: on a field vert
three garbs, or; o^e^ the fess on an escutcheon of pretence, argent, fess sable with three
The foregoing was thus recommcndod. to the surprise of every one who was familiar with
the history of the early seal of thj Siate, and also with the resolution of the I^egislature,
which directed that "the present Arm.s of the State" as "derived from the Great Seal" be
"'corrected of such errors or anomalies as may be therein discovered" and "carefully em-
blazoned and described, so as to be of record." In their report, the gentlemen alluded to.
seem to have been impressed with the idea, not that they were to decide the question of what
was the Arms of the rommi.nwealth, ))ut to report s\ich Arms as they saw proper. The re-
sult was thar the j-low was to !)•■ disi>laced by the Pinn Coat of Arms, while the eagle on
the crest, was to stand on the keystone instead "on a wreath of its colors."
The attention of the commissioners being called to the fact that such authority was not war-
rantetl by the resolution of the Assembly, a collection was made of impressions of the Arms
of the State, as deslened at various periods, as well a.= Impressions of the Great Seal, here-
after to b'^ described, and. In rec< pnitlon thereof, the commissioners reported to the next
Ger.eral AF.-en bly, M.irch 17. lS7,=i, the following:
"That thtv had adopted the Arms as represented by Caleb Lownes in 177S. which represented
the verltabl* Arms of the State, describing the same so as to be of record in the State De-
partment for future reference:— Rt port of the State Librarian, isas.
Escutcheon. — Party per fcss. nziirc and vcit. On a clii*-!" of the
first, a ship uiidt'r sail. On a foss, a ph)ii,i:h pidpcr. On a base of
tlic Sfcond. tliit'c ;rarl>s. or.
•rill' Aini^ ..f 1^^J.
('rest. — An caiih". roiisant. proper, on a wi-cath of iis cohirs.
Siipp<»rtt'rs. — Two liorst'S, sable, caparisoned for draiiuht. i-earinj;.
Motto. — "Xirinr. Libf-rty and IiKlei>en(h*nce."
The adoption of llie arms, thus recommended, placcMl I hem on a
jicrmancnt footin*; and relieved them from a continual ion of the
vicissitudes to \\hi<h ilif niutalioiis of the precedin*; centurv had
The coat of aims is usually dis|dayed in simple black and white,
but these ai-e by no nn'ans the hcr-aldic colors in which it is em-
blazoned upon the State tla«,'. and in oilier places where enlii-e ac
Miiacy is iii'id<(|. The ea.L'Ie is llic II;ili;i'tMs beiicdccpha Ins. or
American b;ild e;i^'Ic. with while head and tail and deep red ni' l»ru\vn
body. The Imusi's are. of course, black, as has alr<'ady been specilied.
The fess, or band, and the margins of the shield ai-e of gold. The
ship, of black, with white sails, rests upon a sea of blue surmounted
by a sky of the same hue, and the plough stands out in deep red or
brown and white upon its gilded base; while the three golden
sheaAes appear upon a field of green. The cornstalk and olive
branch, crossed under the shield, are also of green, while the motto
is printed in black upon a blue streamer.
The Arms of 1873.
The armorial tinctures or colors each have a significance: — Gold
indicates Faith and Constancy; blue signifies Justice and Loyalty;
green represents Courtesy and Affability; black typifies Prudence
and Constancy; red denotes Charity and Magnanimity; and white be-
tokens Hope and Innocence.
The Arms of 1875.
The arm.s of I'ennsylvania then consist of a shield, bordered in
the gold of faith and constancy, supported by speed and strength
personified by two rampant steeds of sable hue further denoting
prudence and fidelity, and crowned witli an eagle — symbolizing
sovereignty — in tincture of deep red (indicating charity and mag-
nanimity), witii tip of white. fnrtJH'r signalizing hope and i)nrity;
while underneath the cornstalk of plenty and the olive branch of
peace are ever bound together in tlie love and comity nuirked by their
verdant tinge. Upon the shield, a ship of black and w'hite — wisdom
and anticipation — sails upon a changeless sea of azure, ever teeming
with justice and loyalty; a ruddy plough stands for gmerosily and
devotitwi upo!i ;in eternal golden base of houor and integrity; while
the three sheaves, in gold of constancy and abundance, never desert
their emerald environment of gentleness and couitesy; — the whole
completed and ]i(Mfected by a scroll of celestial hue, bearing the
glorious motto of the Conunonwealth in ebon tinge, — prudence a«d
constancy u|ion justice and loyalty-
Recent Form of the Arms of 1875.
All of its coiupoiiciit elements then combine to render the coat
of arms a tangiliie assertion of the sovereignty of the Common-
wealth. It is an announeement to the world, of the position of
the State among her sisters. Its very existence means authority,
strength, leadership, wealth and em})ire. It indicates the right to
raise and maintain troojis; it asserts the authority to levy taxes and
collect revenues; it aflirms her competency to direct and compel the
edtnation of hcv peojile; and is a visible vindication of her [)ower and
prerogative to maintain j)eace, j)romote morals and suppress vice.
Itut a deeper exuniination of (he coat of arms of Pennsylvania
shows that it has a far wider and more honorable signification than
that jwrtaining to the n-alm of sovereignty.
The j)lough jxiints to the great 8ub(erranean resources of the
Commonwealth. This homely implement of industry opens m|i the
soil to the fuoducta of agriculture growing in pi'odigions piofusion
throughout the State. It suggests tlu- splendid vegetal ion. adajjted
to every want of man. wliirli sjninirs up throughonf flie fertile valleys
and produ<tive glades of Pennsylvania. It i-eminds us of the swarm-
ing multitudes of dotnestic animals sustained by the products of
husbandry. It calls np pictuics of the vast daily industries, and
of the spreading orchards hanging heavy with the r-ich fruitage
of her gardens.
And then, taken in connection with its golden background, it
brings to mind the vast mineral deposits to be opened up and
adapted to the uses of man. The iron which, in the rockbound
fastnesses of her mountain heights, has for ages awaited the op-
portunity to come forth a«id assume, — here the form of the shining
blade with which the captain leads his men to combat, there the
delicate watch-spring, which regulates the labor of a thousand men:
here the mighty fly-wheel controlling the vast machinery of a fac-
tory which spreads its products all over the face of the earth, there
the tiny pen, which, despite its lack of size, governs the earth and
prescribes laws for all mankind.
The boundless veins of coal, — which furnish power to the busy
workshops and giant factories, the thunderous locomotive and the
winged steamships; which furnish the heat to turn the winter
of our homes into balmy summer, and render palatable the viands
which support our lives; and which give us the light that trans-
forms our nights into the brightness of noonday. These and many
other minerals the great Keystone State pours forth generously
into the outstretched arms of the waiting nations.
The Sheaves of Wheat, upo« their field of green, typify the splen-
did harvest which the State affords to the world, not only in her
wealth of agricultural products and her treasures of mineral rich
ness, but in the vast field of human thought and action. Manufac-
tures of all kinds bring forth a tremendous output of ornamental
and useful articles. Handicrafts are encouraged to the highest
degree, and no useful art is so poor and insignificant as not to ob-
tain a market for abundant products. While mental effort here
reaps its highest rewards, and learning yearly brings forth a fruit-
age of well-taught minds, who readily find a market for their wares.
The Ship, upon its blue expanse, symbolizes the vast network
of commercial relations ramifying throughout the State and send-
ing its branches out into every quarter of the globe. It is the
complement and completion of each of the other elements of the
shield. It collects and disseminates the products of the soil; it
supj)lies the crude materials and distributes the manufactured com-
modities; it brings the learning of the ages to our doors, and
draws out into the brilliant light of public view every individual,
so that for very shame, no man daies to remain clothed in the
ignorance and crudity of less enlightened periods.
The three parts of the shield thus form a complete and har-
monious whole, and well stand for a rommonwealth so rich in
resources and varied in products, for a people so boundless in energy,
and fertile in design, and for a government so efficient in organiza
tion and effective in administration. So unlimited are her resources.
indeed, that were tl..- Stair t.. he sunnundr.l lu ni..ii cw will, an
impassable bairi.-i-. .•veiyihin- m-ch-il for the coniforl and l.ixniv
of her citizens conM he piovidcd fioni her own tcn-iton .
Xo lessinstnu'livc and sii--.-st iw is her iiiotio. -N'hi ii.-. Lihcriv
and IndeiXMidenn'." Xi.t,,,. is a Iiadition of I'.nnsyl va.iia. daliiij^
fi-om the time when the i.roviiue pass.Mli out oi tin- hands of the
profligate Chai-les 11 of En-land into lli,. possession of ihai ina-niti
cent character, William Penn. P,.nn, t.he (Jnaker. I'e.in ii„- uiaHvi-
for his belief, IVnn the Onas cd' th<' I.oipiois, the Mifjnon of ilie Dela-
wares, the honored adoptive father of both. Fonnd.'d ui tlu-
basis of ".Tnsti.e- and -.Mercy," the motto of th.' Penn faniilv and
condncted alon- the line.-* of "Trulh, Peace, Love and Ph-nlv." the
motto of the proprietary couuterseal, the sway of tihe INmu'is ever
followed alon- tin- lines of honor and humanity. With this j.rond
pa-e in her .-arly annals, Pennsylvania may ever hope to perpetuate
virtue throughout Imi- history.
From the first, the people of Pennsylvania were tenacious of
their rights and intolerant of any intrusion upon their privileges.
It was more than appropriate then that the tocsin of libertv, which
roused every loyal heart in 7(» should have »ound.ed f..rth from hei-
StatHhouse. It was entirely suitable that the -rradle (d' Libertv"
should have been located within her borders. Lib,.,Iv is. tlK'ii.
P<'<-nliarly fitted to be introduced into the motto of Pennsvlvania!
will, h gave Joseph Keed. Tihomas MilTiin, John Dickinscni, Anthony
U ayne, Benjamin Franklin and a host of other brave and loval sone.
to do battle against tyranny and oppres.sion in the Revolution; whow'
governor-s wife in lsii» even tore h<'r mantle into fragments to
adorn the uniforms of the soldiers of the (N.mmonwealth in the
sec(.nd war with Kngland; and who.se .diief magistrate still later
was honored with a j.aean of praise by the Poet of Freedom. John
<;. Whittier. berans.. of his fe.nh.ss fnlminarion^, against n.-n.
The pursnil of personal lilH-rty ••ould li:iv.- no other (.Mininal tlian
'imV Ind.-pend-nre. An.l tliat people, wl... wrest.'d (he jen.h'n
weights from their .docks to cast int.. bullets for the uiiniens <d'
tyranny, whose \';,||ey Forge was sanclilied bv the blood of marfvrs
poured out for the ri.us.. of fr.-edom. whose Wvoniing was sa.red
>-oil sprinkled with the fears of Ih.nisan.ls shed fur the defencd.'ss
victims of that slaughter of the innocnls, had nu.st nn.pM>stionablv
vindicated their title 1.. emblazon "Independence*' upon their arms.
And nowhere do these arms shin.' more re.^plend.-nl Iv than upon
the flag (,f the State.— that Hag whi.h. side l:y si<le will, the stars
and stripes, ihas fought ifs way along the lakes in 1S11» in .l.-fense of
tho rights of her citizens who had b.-en impressed' bv Ciwat P.rilain.
and who.se bravery in the batth- of I..-,ke P^rie was s,, conspi.-iu.us
as to enHrle them to medals of hoju.r from the Commonwealth.
That flag of deep blue, with golden fringe, and coat of arms in
tints heraldic embroidered upon itis azure field, — floated inspiringly
at the head of her regiments in tfhe Mexican War, and planted itself
proudly before 'Chapultepec as a, signal to the world of the might
and loyalty of the Keystone State, and as it floated triumphantly
back to the banks of the Susquehanna, it left behind to hallow the
Aztec soil the mortal remains of not a few of her brave sons as
a perpetual reminder of her worth.
And, again, in that internecine conflict of the sixties, the flag of
the Commonwealth bore the coat of arms into an enemy's country in
defence of the "'Virtue. Liberty and Independence," to which her
motto had committed the State. Here, again, on a hundred fields
the valor of Pennsylvania's sons shines forth a beacon light tn
tfhe ages. Meade, Hancock, Crawford, (leary, Hartranft, Beaver.
Macfeely, Henderson and a host of other distinguished commanders-^
were crowned with the laurels which fell in the path of the Key-
stone troops; and many a rout wa^ transformed into victory by the
forward rush of the Pennsylvania flag.
And, only the other day. when struggling Cuba stretched fortih
her manacled hands in prayer for help, the coat of arms upon the
flag at the head of still other regiments flew brave defiance to the
Si)anish enemies of "Virtue, Liberty and Independence." Every-
where tihat work was to be done, there that azure banner streamed
by the side of the stars and stripes, worthy companion in many
a liard-fought fray. Through the Pearl of the Antilles, across tthe
glades of Porto Rico, around the morasses of the Phillippina**, it
has led the gallant sons of the Keystone State ever to victory and
And so, alike in times of peace and war, the i)roud escutcheon of
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ever guidas her ]»eople upward
ami onward to the inevitable goal of unfailing success, a success
wiiich we in this day can see but as in a glass darkly, but which,
in (he fast coming future, will expand and enlarge beyond the power
of tlie ](resent to j)resage.
SIZE OF FLAG SIX FEET SIX INCHES FLY
AND SIX FEET ON STAFF.
Aster, Lenox and Tiideny
IS under no circumstances to U
taken from the Building